Home Cars Autos That Mixed Sports Cars & Station Wagons

Autos That Mixed Sports Cars & Station Wagons

Vukasin Herbez May 7, 2019

You may have heard about the shooting brake as the description of a specific car or model. The term, “shooting brake” describes a special three-door car body in the form of a station wagon. But it doesn’t stop there. They build them on a sports car chassis with a powerful engine delivering high performance. The combination of the three-door wagon body style and sports car feel is quite unusual and so are the shooting brake models.

However, through the years, several manufacturers have produced such vehicles, some in just a few examples and some in significantly higher numbers. The mix of practicality and performance was always appealing to engineers and customers. But due to the fact it is such a small marketing niche, shooting brakes were never popular.

The exclusivity of the concept with the sports car aspect makes this car class so interesting. So here is a list of the best and most interesting shooting brake models. Although the list is not complete, these are the most popular. These characteristic cars will show you the evolution of the concept and idea behind shooting brakes. So, read on to learn more about these unique and rare cars.

  1. Chevrolet Nomad “Fuelie”

They first introduced the muscle car wagon class in 1957 when Chevrolet offered a high-performance drivetrain as an option on its cool-looking Nomad Wagon. Combining a practical body style with a hot fuel-injected 283 V8 small block engine, Chevrolet created a new market niche. The Nomad was a popular model they designed for small business owners and families.

But with the addition of the 283 HP engine, it was fast and could outperform some sports cars of the day. The Nomad was a three-door wagon, but its roofline was a bit different than other wagons from the 1957 Chevrolet lineup. It was more stylish and more like a shooting brake type of car, especially with the performance upgrade.

The secret was the “Fuelie” engine, which they took directly from the 1957 Corvette. However, despite the great performance, this option wasn’t common. And that was because most customers looking for practicality avoided the high-performance engine for cost reasons.

  1. Lynx Eventer

The Jaguar XJS was the quintessential British GT cruiser they produced from the mid-70s, all the way to the mid-90s. During its long run, Jaguar delivered thousands of them all over the world, making this car especially popular in the USA. People loved its low profile and sleek contours with the big power coming from the 5.3 V12 engine.

On the downside, some owners reported the build quality wasn’t that great and the interior was cramped with limited trunk space. However, for those customers, the British engineering firm called Lynx had the perfect solution in a special model they called the Lynx Eventer. The Eventer was a fully-built shooting brake they based on the XJS, which Jaguar dealers could service and maintain.

Lynx did a great job, so the Eventer looks cool and elegant even with the extended roof and rear glass. But if you want one, you better be prepared to look long and hard for the perfect example since Lynx only built 67 of them.

  1. Aston Martin Virage Shooting Brake

Aston Martin was a company that always had some kind of shooting brake on offer. During the ‘50s and ‘60s, you could order a shooting brake conversion of the legendary DB4, DB5 or DB6 sports cars straight from the Aston dealer. The company would produce the chassis and contact coachbuilding firm of your choice to deliver a fully finished car straight to your door.

British aristocrats loved this body shape since it allowed them to carry guns and equipment for hunting trips, yet it still retained the performance of a sports coupe. At that time, Aston didn’t have any shooting brakes on offer, which is a shame.

The last one was the Virage Shooting Brake they introduced in 1992 which Aston built themselves instead of by an outside company. It was a fast and good-looking car with a 5.3-liter V12 engine producing 330 HP. With a whopping price of $334,000 in 1992, they didn’t build many of them. In fact, by the end of the production run, Aston managed to sell 75 of them, mostly in Europe.

  1. BMW Z3 Coupe

To create the first Z3 model, BMW used the E36 Compact 3 Series platform and the rear suspension from their old E30 model. And then they covered it with a sexy new open-top body. The result was a stylish, lightweight convertible with two seats and a lineup of potent four and six-cylinder engines with great driving dynamics. They released the Z3 in 1996 in the middle of the roadster renaissance to an eager audience.

It was one of the bestsellers in its class and a benchmark model in the performance and handling department. The Z3 Roadster was a big success for BMW, but the company wanted to go further and introduce a closed version. Despite the fact they called it a coupe, the Z3 Coupe was a shooting brake. It had an almost vertical rear third door, a big rear glass and a big trunk, which added a surprisingly big amount of practicality into this small car.

Of course, due to its higher price and somewhat controversial styling, the Z3 Coupe wasn’t as popular as the Roadster. However, it spread the magic of the shooting brake body style to the mainstream car market. Especially interesting are the M versions powered by a 3.2-liter straight six engine delivering 320 HP.

  1. Jensen GT

Those shooting brakes were quite popular in Britain. And the number of British cars on this list will convince you of that. So here is one more, the Jensen GT. It was a brave attempt to introduce the shooting brake to U.S. buyers back in the mid-70s. The GT was the closed version of the Jensen Healey Roadster, a popular open-top model in ’70s.

To widen its appeal, Jensen decided to create a coupe, so the GT was born. Under the hood was a 2.0-liter Lotus-derived engine with around 100 HP and a modest performance. They presented the GT in 1975 and discontinued it in 1976, selling a few, mostly on the American market.

  1. Lotus Elite

Emerging in 1974, the Elite was the most controversial Lotus model up to this date. But it was also the most practical for obvious reasons. Colin Chapman, the owner and head of Lotus wanted to replace the old Elan Plus 2 model with a more modern, four-seat model. It would feature enough room for the passengers and more luggage space.

To do that, Chapman designed a wedge-shaped shooting brake that proved to be a quite capable as well as a usable sports car. Since it was a Lotus, it had a four-wheel independent suspension, high revving 155 HP engine and light construction that provided the perfect road holding.

Despite its styling, the Elite was surprisingly roomy inside and easy to live with. Of course, British cars from the ‘70s all suffered from various types of mechanical failures and the Elite was no exception. They ceased production in the early ‘80s after making more than 2,500 examples.

  1. Reliant Scimitar GTE

Everybody knows about the Reliant brand for its diminutive three-wheel model they called the Robin, which had an infamous part in the Top Gear show. However, Reliant was a brand that had more than a few interesting models beside the tiny, unstable three-wheel car. And one of the most forgotten but coolest cars is the Scimitar GTE.

Introduced in 1968, the Scimitar GTE was a shooting brake version of the two-door coupe of the same name. They built it on a custom chassis powered by Ford’s 3.0-liter V6 engine with 150 HP. And it gave the elegant Scimitar a respectable performance, especially by the standards of the day.

They marketed the Scimitar GTE as a luxury car with the comfort of a wagon and the performance and the looks of a sports GT coupe. They ceased production in 1986 after making over 4,500 copies.

  1. Volvo 1800 ES

The Volvo P1800 was an extraordinary success for this Swedish brand back in the early ‘60s. In fact, nobody expected the small factory to produce such an elegant, sophisticated coupe. It came with sensual lines but undisputed quality and durability. All through the ‘60s, the P1800 was the most interesting car Volvo sold and a well-received model in America.

When the ’70s arrived, Volvo needed something to revive the appeal of the P1800. The car still performed well, but the design was a bit outdated. So, the company decided to introduce a new body style to keep their customers interested. They decided to present a shooting brake in the form of Volvo 1800 ES. They introduced the 1800 ES in 1972.

It featured a 125 HP engine with electronic fuel injection and a station wagon rear end. Due to the dimensions of the car, the 1800 ES proved to be practical. The luggage space was immense and the third door opened wide, so access was not a problem. Their customers accepted this car, but after just two years, Volvo discontinued production after building 8,077, most of which they sold in America.

  1. Ferrari FF

What is the first thing that pops in your mind when you hear the name, “Ferrari”? Most people think of those red, mid-engine sports cars or those classic GT cruisers with front mounted V12 engines. But what about those all-wheel drive, four-seat, three-door station wagons producing 660 HP?

Because it is not the typical Ferrari, in 2011 when Ferrari presented the FF, everybody was stunned. It was more of a hot hatch than a pure thoroughbred Gran Turismo in shooting brake form. The FF proved to be quite popular, so they built over 2,000 in its five-year production run at $300,000 apiece.

This was the first Ferrari road car featuring a shooting brake/wagon form and all-wheel drivetrain. But it must have been a slap in the face of Ferrari purists. However, it was also a great road car and a true upscale shooting brake.

  1. Ford Mustang Shooting Brake Concept

When they presented the Mustang in 1964, it became a worldwide hit. In fact, Ford sold a million examples in just a year and a half after the introduction. As with all popular cars, customizers started presenting their visions of this popular pony car. But one of the notable custom creations was the Mustang station wagon.

Ford noticed the trend, so in 1966, it presented the prototype of a three-door, shooting brake-style station wagon loosely based on the 1969 design. The Ford managers saw the potential in a roomier version of the Mustang since the long roof didn’t affect the sleek profile. Also, the sporty appeal of the original design also offered much more practicality and comfort.

However, Ford never introduced the Mustang Wagon to the public as an official concept. In fact, Ford decided to stick with low production costs and standard body styles, which is a shame.

  1. Callaway Aerowagon

Rives Callaway established Callaway Cars in 1977, long after the muscle car craze wound down. In fact, those high horsepower performance machines were just a thing of past. He specialized in producing turbocharger kits for installation in European cars. Callaway’s knowledge and expertise at the start of the turbo era perfectly lined up, so the company took off.

During the ’80s, Callaway became known for their series of super-fast and obscenely powerful Corvettes. Today, almost 30 years later, Callaway is back with the Aerowagon conversion model. Based on the new C7 Corvette and available on all trim levels, including the Grand Sport and Z06, the Aerowagon is conversion kit you can get directly from Callaway or from an authorized dealer.

The kit includes special rear hatch assembly that transforms the C7 Corvette into a fully functional shooting brake without affecting its design or aerodynamics. There were several shooting brake/wagon conversions others based on the Corvette before. However, the Callaway is the most advanced, with the best design and testing, making it more practical and cooler.

These are the top shooting brakes. They are a cool mix between sports cars and station wagons that combine practicality with performance. Did you find your favorite?

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